Best of Miami

Best of Miami 2011: Best Festival

In anticipation of the upcoming Best of Miami issue hitting newsstands June 16, here is a sneak peek at one category and its winner.

Best Festival
O, Miami

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Better not. For starters, no one appreciates being called stifling and sticky. Besides, Miamians aren't down with such poetic metaphors, right? Wrong. O, Miami, the inaugural monthlong poetry festival, proved otherwise, which is a big deal for a city whose reputation as a party town eclipses any literary scene. Organized by University of Wynwood director P. Scott Cunningham and self-proclaimed "culturologist" Pete Borrebach, O, Miami had a mission to make sure each of Miami's 2.5 million residents encountered a poem during April 2011. And considering the ambitious street-level and highbrow programming, we think the festival came pretty close to its goal. O, Miami brought in U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, National Book Award finalist Anne Carson, the Merce Cunningham dancers, Brooklyn Rail publisher Phong Bui, and Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman, among others. The organizers also employed a couple of guerrilla tactics to expose the uninterested to great verse -- dropping biodegradable poems from an airplane over Sweatstock, printing poetry on menus, and broadcasting it on DMV monitors. O, Miami poets drove around Miami in a red Ferrari and shouted verse from megahorns. And when über-star James Franco was delayed for an appearance alongside his poetry professor Tony Hoagland, a remarkable thing happened. The audience's visible anxiety over the 127 Hours actor's absence soon changed to rapt attention as Hoagland read his own verse, which eulogized everything from blowjobs to Britney Spears.

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